Events, Life and my Garden

Converting Scraps to Compost Worms Milestone (Part 1)

Compost worms … 29 years on

BACKGROUND

Before I get to the real story here let me say one thing. It’s the little wins in gardening, that often give you the greatest kick, & inspire you to do more.

From my experience, you don’t always have to be super motivated at the start, or consistent through unavoidable changes to your time. Little wins come as you try. They will develop your patience and inspire consistent effort, to try out new and bigger things in your garden. In turn, You and your garden, will become more resilient to seasonal conditions, weather, pest problems, uncooperative humans & wildlife, to name a few.

THE  MILESTONE

Since 1992 I’ve separated 50 kilogram extra, of pure red wriggler compost worms from my worm farms, to start other worm farms breeding in my garden. That is from no special effort, except feeding them on kitchen and garden scraps (plant based only) in enclosed vermin resistant systems I designed. For more information see My Worm Farm Design links below.

I have dug separated worm castings into my soil, probably into many hundreds of kilos by now. I wish I knew the real figure. But in my haste to improve and condition new native soil garden beds in my younger years (I’m 52 now and started this garden from scratch at 23) I didn’t record these details. But like Manuel in Fawlty Towers…’I learn Mr Fawlty..I learn.’

CURRENT PRODUCTION

Currently I separate at least 20 kilos of worm castings from my worm farms, AND 3 kilos of extra worms, per year. Time required: Low…I have just 10 hours total on average per week to spend in/on my garden (I mow my lawns, sow, plant, prune, tidy, harvest, tend to all composts in that time, myself).

I will go into how I harvest, store and use worm castings in Part 2 of this post..TBA.

I will say all those kilos of worm castings I produced, though separated, contained compost worm eggs. The newly hatched compost worms have ‘lived rough’ on the sheet mulching I regularly apply on my native soil garden beds, breaking it down into …black gold. Tons of beautiful soil I could never have achieved for this large garden and didn’t have the funds to buy in. The worms and I have created this lovely topsoil together. But the garden has weathered several droughts and hot summers including last years ‘once in one hundred years ‘ drought. Many of those worms have died in the process and, my soils after all this time are definitely not perfect. So all soil continues as a work in progress.

Those that survive ‘living rough’ have spawned little descendant compost colonies dotted all over my garden – because I don’t use chemicals or manures. I have found red wrigglers and earthworms to be  perfect companions. They work on breaking down surface mulch like grass & leaf clippings. The earthworms plough the deeper clay soil below. Work I wouldn’t and shouldn’t do much of, myself.

But why did I say no manures? It’s my more recent measure, and it’s hard to sustain the kind of beautiful soil organic manures give. But sadly, many manures ‘organic’ or not, may contain traces of worming medications and antibiotics used to keep animals healthy while they live in ‘regulated’ conditions. Those worming medications may kill your garden earthworms, compost worms and soil microbes. I choose not to let manures into my garden now, so problem solved. So now you see how important my worm castings and random wildlife droppings (via ecosystems I design in) are to my soil. They are chemical and medication-free because I know what foods they’ve eaten. Part 2 will have more on this.

MY WORM FARM DESIGN

In 2014 I wrote an article about how to build your own worm farm using my fully enclosed worm farm design, for permaculturenews.com.org. You’ll find that article HERE.

I also wrote an update blog post in 2019, which you’ll find HERE

I use them now as ‘tractors’ of fertility all around my garden, not just tucked in out of the way spaces like my 2014 article photograph suggests.

I hope you can use some re-purposed materials around your home to build your own. If you buy new components, these will last you many years, so are worth the money.

Please like this article. Comment below on how you are going with your worm farms and any further ideas, comments or questions on the topic you’d like to add.

Good luck with your worm farm if you decide its for you 💚

Disclaimer: Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy your worm farms.

Kitchen, Life and my Garden

Chimichurri Inspired Sauce

Parsley has to be one of the most delicious and abundant herbs in a spring kitchen garden.

This morning I had no idea I’d be harvesting a large amount of parsley, or potatoes etc. A story you’ll find on my Instagram post 

I decided that with most ingredients to hand, both in the garden and pantry, a Chimichurri inspired sauce was what I would make. The fresh parsley taste at this time of year is unbeatable, and this sauce features it beautifully.

The chimichurri sauce I make uses the food processor to speed things up. I’m not Armenian, and I don’t pretend that this is anywhere near the expertise of the traditional recipe. However I am constantly looking for world cuisine inspiration, and the fresh ingredients this sauce uses from the garden is delicious. I keep the finished sauce in the fridge for about a week, and use it in a number of things.

Uses

My Chimichurri Inspired Sauce can be used as a marinade, folded through a green linguini and nut pasta, as a flavourful ingredient in a pizza base sauce, or savoury yoghurt, dips and cheeses. I’m sure you’ll think of other uses too.

Substitutions

The recipes I make are always based on what I have ‘to hand’. Fresh food moves directly from garden to kitchen to table where possible, in my home. So substitutions become necessary sometimes.

A traditional Chimichurri would use wine vinegar, however I use concentrated lime juice from my tree, stored in my fridge. Whereas fresh garlic is preferred for this recipe, I used dried garlic granules. You could use minced garlic or garlic paste if you have it. I used curly parsley, whereas flat parsley is traditionally used. I don’t like coriander, so I used all parsley. If you’re interested in traditional chimichurri just do an internet search using those key words.

Garden to Table

The opening pic shows all the fresh ingredients I used from my garden, which you’ll find in the recipe below. To this I added 2 tsp dried garlic granules, 1/3cup concentrated lime juice, 2/3cup extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of brown sugar (optional).

What I enjoy about this fridge-fixer recipe is, it involves no cooking and can be used as an ingredient in vegetarian, vegan or meat dishes.

I like to let my Chimichurri sauce ‘cure’ its flavours for a day or so before using. But you might need it in a hurry. It works either way.

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Chimichurri Inspired Sauce

Makes: Approximately 1.5 cups or 1 large Jar

Ingredients

100 gram parsley  (flat or curly)

15 gram spring onion/shallots

2 small sprigs oregano

2 very small chilli, seeds removed

2 teaspoons dried garlic granules

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

Pinch sea salt

Pinch brown sugar (optional)

Method

  1. Roughly chop spring onions, parsley, oregano, chilli.
  2. Measure the olive oil and lime juice into the same measuring jug, for ease of use later
  3. Put half the greens, chilli and garlic into the food processor, add half the lime juice & oil
  4. Process on high till smooth.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients and process till smooth
  6. Put your sauce into clean sterilised jars and store in the fridge
  7. Use the sauce within a week

I hope you enjoy having another idea to use up your beautiful homegrown or gifted, parsley supplies.

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Disclaimer… Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy making your chimichurri inspired sauce.

 

 

Life and my Garden

Worms and Soil Fertility

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Back in 2014 I designed a worm farm tractor system for small spaces from readily available or up-cycled materials.

I wrote a step by step article for making my worm tractor design for permaculturenews.org and all the background information you’ll need, which you can find by clicking HERE

My design requires a garbage bin with lid (not metal-too hot for worms), a laundry basket and a bowl to fit inside. Beyond that, just the worms and your kitchen scraps.

Worm farming doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. I have decades of experience in this and I didn’t have the budget I do now, back then.

Understandably, my design went nuts on the internet and Pinterest for a good while amongst ‘wormers’ and permaculturalists 😂 Some find the commercially available systems too expensive.

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My Instagram pic shows an example of how I’m using my system 5 years on, right now.

This worm farm ‘tractor’ is one of three, feeding a cucumber and a brand new asparagus patch. The only difference is it drains directly into the garden not the bowl I included in the stand alone, or inside, design.

My experience with worm farming goes back to 1991 when part of my job as Health Information Officer was to present Living Green and Sustainability workshops/seminars to community and business groups, talks to school children who were being given a commercially available worm farm as part of the local government initiative.

Everyone can increase the fertility in their soil with things they already have on hand.

I hope this helps anyone who feels upset they don’t have the money to start improving their soil.

Give the article a read!

#mygarden#composting #wormfarming #diy#gardening #makeyourown #writer#designer #urbanfarmer#sustainableliving #soilregeneration#organicgardener #permaculture#vintagetrishgarden

 

Life and my Garden, Plant Stories

The Miracle Lemon Tree

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Well there’s this little miracle that happened with my lemon tree.

No I haven’t posted the wrong picture-it’s one that will set the scene of what this section of my garden looks like this morning, and pic 2 will explain.

When my husband and I bought this place 28 years ago, the garden didn’t exist. It was weeds posing as a massive lawn, an ancient dying plum tree, and a lemon tree with a falling down fence.

Three years ago on one of my most upsetting days in the garden, I had to cut down that lemon tree I had loved for so many years, and bought back from the brink of death twice.

I left a small piece of trunk as a little memorial marker.

In this last year (worst drought on record) I knew I had made the right decision for it. It was just a stump for two years.

Yesterday evening I was looking at something else nearby and noticed what you see in the pic below.

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After two years as a stump it’s decided to rejoin the citrus party that is my backyard.

I couldn’t believe it at first. Then tears welled up.

I believe backyard Australian lemon trees weren’t grafted back then, so I’m hoping I’m looking at pure lemon tree.

I’m going to pour love on the tiny shoot this season, and see what happens.

At the worst (if it’s just root stock) I’ll graft another type of citrus onto it. The tree is too sentimental to say goodbye to, twice.

Today it will be 33C. I don’t think the lemon tree has chosen an easy upcoming season to rejoin me…. but I’m glad it has.

The lemon tree was one of the few things here before I arrived. Wouldn’t it be awesome if at least part of that wonderful tree, outlasts me…

 

Remember! If you’d like to follow my daily garden updates follow me on Instagram

#mygarden #poppies #lemon#cutflowers #flowers #lemontree#flowergarden #miracles#organicgardener #trees#backyardfruittrees#gardeningaustralia #permaculture#vintagetrishgarden

Kitchen, Life and my Garden

Rose Scented Geranium Syrup

It’s beautiful scent makes up for its ‘leggy’ habit.

Rose scented geranium is a delightful and useful addition to any garden. It’s pink flowers are simple but cute. It’s fairly tolerant of a number of soil types, and its leaves send a beautiful rose scent out as soon as you brush up against them in the garden, or bruise them more deliberately.

After a long, extremely hot and drought ridden summer season, my plant ‘looked like the rest of us’…

After a quick prune I was left with a small armful of branches filled with gorgeous leaves. My mind destined them for cuttings and Rose Scented Geranium Syrup.

Rose Scented Geranium Syrup

This recipe is a traditional favourite in several cultures. It couldn’t be simpler, because it’s just the rose scented geranium leaves, equal parts water and raw sugar. But please do it when you have time to enjoy the scent in your home and be present with the boiling syrup.

Warning: This is not a recipe for including children. Boiling syrup is scalding and damaging if it gets near skin, because it sticks and can’t be quickly removed with water. Do not leave the stove unattended. Please protect yourself and don’t allow children in the kitchen for this one.

Method:

Sterilise your storage jars or jugs using boiling water bath or oven method – Google if needed.

Pluck rose-scented geranium leaves only, and put them in your pot.

Just cover the leaves with water-keep count of how much you’re adding using cups/bowls/jugs etc.

Add the same amount of raw sugar that you added in water.

Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and thick bubbles form-this will take different times according to your quantities of leaves, water and sugar.

Do not be tempted to turn the heat to high as this will burn the sugar.

The thick bubbles show you the mixture has turned from sugar-water to sugar syrup, and your rose-scented geranium syrup is ready.

Use a funnel in the bottle with a metal strainer on top of the funnel, to decant your syrup into storage bottles/jars/jugs (see photo). This will separate the leaves from your finished syrup.

Hint: A clean sink is what I use to put my bottles in and then decant into. This captures any sticky hot mess that may result and keeps my hands above the hot syrup rather than near it. If a bottle falls, it doesn’t damage you or your bench.

Using oven mitts, place your hot syrup bottles onto a heat proof surface and allow to cool. Put lids or stoppers on when cooled.

Store in the fridge and use promptly. Never consume mouldy or discoloured syrup.

Uses

Your rose-scented geranium syrup will lend a beautiful perfumed rose-scented sweetness to any baking, cocktails, iced tea, cake icing, toffee etc.

You can also use rose-scented geranium leaves as natural air fresheners and to bake directly onto the bottom of cakes–but that’s another blog!

I’ve got some fresh strawberries from the garden and I’ll be making a batch of Rose-scented Geranium and Strawberry Muffins. Mmmm.

I hope you have fun making and using this delightful syrup.

 

Disclaimer… Please do your own research for your own needs and context. The author assumes no responsibility for any outcomes of anyone using this well researched and documented blog post. Enjoy making and using your syrup.